Lionsgate, the production company that films Mad Men for AMC, has reached an agreement with streaming video provider Netflix. All current episodes of the acclaimed drama will appear on the service starting in July.

Mad Men fans were ecstatic to hear the news that the series had been renewed for seasons five and six. Lionsgate, AMC and creator Matthew Weiner had been circling the negotiation table for months over matters of money and creative control. The  network and production company apparently abandoned their demands for a shorter run time and cast reduction.

The new deal with Netflix will bring all previous episodes of the celebrated cable show to streaming customers in the US. In addition, future seasons will be added to the library upon their completion. Whether they will be added before or after their release on DVD and Blu-ray was not addressed.

With an expensive new contract with Weiner, it’s not hard to understand why Lionsgate wants to expand the viewership for Mad Men. The series was AMC’s breakout hit, but the cable network still pulls in a relatively small audience – the 2010 premiere netted just under 3 million viewers. According to Engadget, Netflix has over 20 million subscribers in the US and Canada.

The addition is the latest in a long line of wins for Netflix as it continues to solidify its position at the top of the streaming subscription game. On top of an expanding library of TV shows and movies, they’re getting into the production game: David Fincher’s new political thriller House of Cards will air exclusively to Netflix customers.

These days it’s hard to remember that Netflix still delivers physical DVDs and Blu-ray movies via the postal service. With more and more platforms added to their streaming service, including Apple devices, Roku, Google TV, TiVo and an upcoming Android app, they’re a step ahead of competitors like Hulu or HBO Go.

Due to the extended contractual negotiations, the fifth season of Mad Men will not air on AMC until early 2012. Season 4 was released to DVD and Blu-ray last week.

Source: Multichannel News